A major new energy innovation project to demonstrate how smart hydropower technologies can deliver a low-carbon, reliable and resilient power system was launched today.
The €18 million initiative was announced by the European Commission and a consortium of 19 partners at the United Nations climate change conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. It will show how innovative and flexible hydropower systems can help countries across the world meet their renewable energy targets.
The XFLEX HYDRO (Hydropower Extending Power System Flexibility) project is a four-year initiative by leading utilities, equipment manufacturers, universities, research centres and consultancies. It will demonstrate how modern hydropower plants can provide the vital power grid services required by variable renewables such as wind and solar power.
The launch comes after a major UN Emissions Gap Report looking at ways to reduce global carbon emissions said that greater power system flexibility was “key” to integrating larger shares of variable renewable energy into the power supply.
The XFLEX HYDRO technologies to be tested are enhanced variable- and fixed-speed turbine systems, smart controls and a battery-turbine hybrid, each of which will be demonstrated at hydropower plant sites across Europe.
The project will conclude in 2023 by delivering a roadmap to increase adoption of the technologies across the hydropower fleet, with policy and market recommendations for governments, regulators and industry.
The initiative has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It aims to help the EU achieve a target of achieving 32% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Mr Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General for the European Commission’s Directorate-General Research and Innovation, commented: “Combining the excellence and expertise of 19 partners from across Europe, the XFLEX HYDRO project will test innovative solutions based on renewable energy sources that will provide greater flexibility and sustainability to the energy system. The project aims to increase hydropower’s potential in terms of plant efficiency, thereby boosting electrical power systems and enabling plant and system operators to operate more successfully in electricity markets. This can make an impactful contribution to European renewable energy objectives and policies.”
Professor François Avellan of EPFL, the research institute and university leading the project, stated: “Across Europe countries are embracing large-scale electricity generation from renewables such as solar and wind power and shifting away from conventional fossil fuels for electricity generation. The growth in variable renewables is changing how power grids operate, with potential impacts on the stability and security on the whole power grid. This places unprecedented challenges on the hydropower sector to provide flexible and reliable services to the grid.
“The technologies demonstrated by the XFLEX HYDRO project will help hydropower to consolidate its critical role to support the integration of variable renewables into the power grid. This will ensure hydropower operators can maximise their performance and access future energy markets,” he added.
International Hydropower Association:
Eddie Rich, Chief Executive of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), which is responsible for XFLEX HYDRO project communications, said: “We need to decarbonise the power sector, and fast, if we are to limit the devastating impacts of climate change. Last month’s UN Emissions Gap Report is a stark reminder that we need hydropower to boost the contribution of variable renewables like wind and solar. The XFLEX HYDRO initiative represents a clear commitment by the European Commission, leading organisations from the hydropower sector and academia to invest in new and innovative hydropower technologies.”
Find out more at www.xflexhydro.net
Launch event speakers (left to right): Richard Taylor (Executive Adviser, IHA), Patrick Child (Deputy Director-General, EU Commission), Sara Goulartt (EDP), Antoine Badinier (EDF), with Minoru Takada (UN DESA) who hosted the launch at the UN DESA SDG pavilion at COP25.
EPFL - Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is one of Europe’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan science and technology institutions. EPFL is the project leader responsible for scientific supervision and developing a new smart power plant supervisor system technology through the XFLEX HYDRO project.
Alpiq - Alpiq is a leading Swiss energy services provider and electricity producer in Europe. It produces each year in Switzerland 4,200 GWh of electricity from hydropower. In the project, Alpiq leads the demonstrator at Z’Mutt, in Switzerland, which involves the renewal of Unit 5 of the pump station of Z'Mutt to test new operation modes in variable speed using a full-size frequency converter.
Andritz AT - ANDRITZ HYDRO GmbH is a global supplier of electromechanical systems and services for hydropower plants. The company is a leader in the world market for hydraulic power generation. The HYDRO division is the largest business area of ANDRITZ AG headquartered in Graz, Austria. ANDRITZ AT contributes to the demonstration in the Vogelgrün power plant focusing on optimised control of the hydraulic system in combination with a battery.
Andritz CH – ANDRITZ HYDRO AG is the Swiss subsidiary of ANDRITZ HYDRO GmbH in Switzerland. It contributes to the demonstration at the Vogelgrün power plant, focusing on generating a digital twin of the plant, developing a generic method for data based, real-time assessment of wear and tear and to optimise a specific predictive maintenance module for hydraulic system equipment manufacturers in combination with a battery.
ARMINES – ARMINES is a private non-profit research and technological organisation performing research contractual activities and academic research training. The project activities of ARMINES are primarily focused on implementing advanced control strategies and forecasting tools, and in the coordinated control of battery energy storage systems and hydropower plants.
CEA - CEA (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) is a French public body and the country’s largest technology research and development provider, whose role is to transfer this know-how to the industry. CEA is responsible for the battery storage system that is hybridised with the hydropower turbine in the Vogelgrün power plant.
EDF - EDF Group is the world’s leading electricity company, particularly well established in Europe. The EDF Hydro Division largely contributes to the 98% CO² free electricity in France, with a yearly average generation of 43.5TWh with its 600+ dams and 400 power plants. EDF is responsible for two demonstrations in the project: at Grand Maison and Vogelgrün power plants.
EDP CNET - EDP Centre for New Energy Technologies (EDP CNET) is a subsidiary of the EDP Group with the mission to create value through collaborative R&D in the energy sector. EDP CNET is responsible for two demonstrations within XFLEX (Alqueva and Alto Lindoso power plant in Portugal), and leads the definition of business use cases for the provision of flexibility services in the power system.
EDP P - EDP Gestão da Produção da Energia, S.A has some 1,000 workers, with an installed capacity of 10 GW, 6.7 GW of which is hydropower (approximately 2.5 GW of which with pumping capacity). As a key utility partner and major hydro operator, EDP P provides the perspective of a large-scale storage investor/owner and is responsible for the Frades 2 demonstrator in Portugal.
GE Renewable Energy - GE Renewable Energy is a $15 billion business which combines one of the broadest portfolios in the renewable energy industry to provide end-to-end solutions for our customers demanding reliable and affordable green power. Combining onshore and offshore wind, blades, hydro, storage, utility-scale solar, and grid solutions as well as hybrid renewables and digital services offerings, the company has installed more than 400+ gigawatts of clean renewable energy. The hydro activity leads the development of solutions to extend flexibility services on three demonstrators: Grand Maison, Alqueva and Alto Lindoso power plants.
HES SO - HES SO is the largest university of applied sciences in Switzerland and the second largest higher education institution of the country, with more than 21,000 students and 25 schools located in 7 cantons. The hydroelectric research group of HES SO is in charge of the modelling, numerical analysis and prototype measurements in several demonstrators.
IHA - The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit membership organisation committed to advancing sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. IHA is responsible for XFLEX HYDRO project communications.
INESC TEC - INESC TEC is a private non-profit institution having as associates the University of Porto, INESC and the Polytechnic Institute of Porto. INESCTEC leads the development and population of the hydro flexibility matrix, as well as the development of system integration studies and models for the technologies and solutions to attain the enhanced flexibility range.
PVE - Power Vision Engineering is a spin-off company of the Ecole polytechnique féderale de Lausanne, EPFL, founded in 2007, providing software solutions and expertise in the field of hydropower plant transient and dynamic behaviour. PVE contributes to the modelling and simulation of hydraulic and hydroelectric systems and is a supplier of the HydroClone innovative Real-Time Simulation Monitoring (RTSM) system.
SuperGrid Institute - SuperGrid Institute is an independent research and innovation centre that works to facilitate the wide-scale integration of renewable resources into the electrical grid. The Institute is responsible for illustrating the impact of the flexible technologies and is developing a tool (Flexbot) to demonstrate their economic benefits. Its real-time hydraulic test platform will also be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of new flexible solutions.
UPC - Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya is a public institution dedicated to higher education and research, specialised in the fields of architecture, engineering and technology. UPC is responsible for the field tests and the installation of the monitoring system in the demonstrators.
USTUTT – The University of Stuttgart is composed of 10 faculties covering technical fields, natural sciences as well as social sciences with a total of 22,600 students and 3,150 researchers. USTUTT is responsible for the unsteady numerical flow field simulations to determine unsteady dynamic loads on pump-turbine components.
Voith Hydro - The Voith Group is a global technology company. With its broad portfolio of systems, products, services and digital applications, the Voith Group sets standards in the markets of energy, oil and gas, paper, raw materials and transport and automotive. The Group Division Hydro experts focus on the development and implementation of additional solutions to make the Frades 2 demonstrator even more efficient and to increase its performance range as well as to optimise its maintenance in order to strengthen its supportive role for the flexibility of the power system.
ZABALA - ZABALA is a Spanish SME with wide experience in supporting organisations in the management of their research, technology development and innovation activities. ZABALA participates in the definition of the business development plan for all knowledge created in the project and establishing an IPR strategy for the protection of intellectual property.
International Hydropower Association
As renewables take up a larger share of the electricity mix, demand for the flexibility services offered by hydropower is expected to grow, said IHA President Roger Gill at the 18th edition of the World Wind Energy Conference WWEC 2019.
Hydropower, including pumped hydropower storage to a greater extent, provides essential grid services and will make significant contributions to future clean energy systems as the ‘world’s water battery’, Mr Gill told the conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week. The event, held between 25 to 27 November, brought together more than 300 people from over 20 countries.
Presenting on the topic of ‘renewables working together’, the newly elected IHA President said the world’s renewable energy associations, including solar, geothermal and bioenergy, should continue to promote discussion on how renewables can best support the energy transition and achievement of sustainable development goals.
The portfolios of hydropower facilities in many power systems of the world are already capable of providing services that support the increasing contribution of wind and solar. “Hydro equipment is able to operate flexibly to accommodate the variability of wind and solar in the short and medium term and existing large storage reservoirs can contribute to provide energy supply security over longer time scales,” Mr Gill said.
Mr Gill cited the example of Brazil, where hydropower is a key part of the energy mix. The country has the second largest fleet of hydropower facilities in the world. Its portfolio of hydropower provides vital energy supply and, as wind and solar power are added, can deliver power system services to stabilise the grid.
“With the modernisation of Brazilian hydro plants already underway, the facilities should be upgraded to even more efficiently meet Brazil’s future energy and power system service needs,” Mr Gill said.
Under the theme of ‘Large-scale integration of wind power generation’, WWEC 2019 highlighted how wind power generation can be integrated with other renewable sources to reach 100 per cent renewable energy supply and how integration is important as end-use sectors switch from fossil fuels to electricity, such as with electric vehicles.
The conference programme included presentations in the areas of wind, solar and other renewable energy, energy storage technologies, energy in transport, power generation by communities and emerging renewable markets.
Visit www.world-wind.events for more information.
A three-day Certified User Training on the Hydropower Sustainability Tools was held for the Inter-American Development Bank and IDB Invest in Washington D.C. in October by trainers from the International Hydropower Association.
Participants gained knowledge of good international industry practice in hydropower preparation, implementation and operation and how the tools can support clients involved in hydropower development across Latin America.
“Overall it was an excellent and pragmatic course,” said Roberto Aiello, Principal Energy Regional Specialist at IDB. “I liked the design, structure, topics, pace and content - it works very well for people like us at multilateral development banks, who have busy schedules.”
“A deeper knowledge on sustainability tools for hydropower is essential for our work in the region, as hydropower is still the largest electricity source in Latin America,” added Arturo Alarcón, senior energy specialist at IDB. “Currently we are supporting several rehabilitation and modernisation projects, and applying sustainability principles in infrastructure development, operation and maintenance is critical to guarantee the best use of our resources.”
IHA’s approach to training is centred around hands-on training and the sharing of technical know-how. IDB and IDB Invest staff reviewed and analysed case studies from previous assessments and engaged in interactive activities designed to build their confidence around the assessment process and solidify their knowledge of sustainability measurement.
Learn about training opportunities
28 October 2019
A new IHA how-to guide for hydropower developers and operators aims to increase understanding of benefit sharing in project development and operation.
The How-to Guide on Hydropower Benefit Sharing will help decision-makers identify and deliver socio-economic benefits to communities, while assisting companies to avoid business risks and improve project viability.
João Costa, Senior Sustainability Specialist at IHA, said: “Hydropower projects are developed to provide electricity and other essential services such as water supply or flood control. But they do more than that. Sustainable projects can provide important benefits for nearby communities, including economic infrastructure, electricity subsidies and local employment.
“This how-to guide will help industry professionals understand benefit sharing in hydropower and gain insights into the strategies and approaches towards achieving good international industry practice."
The publication provides an overview of current knowledge on benefit sharing across the hydropower sector, looking at beneficiaries and types of benefits, including those related to project siting and design, monetary and non-monetary, regulatory and voluntary, benefits, as well as governance and monitoring methodologies.
The guide aims to support developers and operators in meeting good practice, as defined by the internationally recognised Hydropower Sustainability Tools. It outlines a range of strategies to share benefits related to financial mechanisms, capacity-building, training and employment, procurement, social services, economic infrastructure, electrification and subsidies, and reservoir use.
Writing in the guide, lead author Joerg Hartmann concludes by recommending a partnership approach to benefit sharing. “Communities need to be empowered to take responsibility for their own development,” he said.
“A partnership approach depends on communities being treated as equals and with respect by projects and by government, and is a precondition for good community relations.”
The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit membership organisation committed to sustainable hydropower. Our mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. We achieve this through sector monitoring, advancing strategies that strengthen performance, and building an open, innovative and trusted platform for knowledge.
4th November 2019
Hydropower should stay “front and centre in the global debate as to how renewable energy can affect the low carbon future,” agreed International Hydropower Association (IHA)’s President, Roger Gill, and Chief Executive Officer, Eddie Rich, in an introduction video after taking on their new respective roles.
“IHA needs to retain its capacity to be a strong advocate for the role hydropower can play as the world transitions to a new renewable energy future,” said Gill.
He added that hydropower could play a supporting role to wind and solar power. “Undoubtedly, that is going to help us establish a renewable energy framework that will enable climate change to be addressed,” Gill said.
Over the next few months, Rich and Gill said their goal would be to connect and engage with as many of IHA’s members as possible.